How companies can build a talent-centric organisation
With 65 per cent of companies seeing labour shortages as a key barrier for growth,1 winning the battle for talent is more important than ever.
During the chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic, a strange phenomenon was noticed. People were quitting their jobs in droves. In the period between July and September 2021, out of the one million UK workers who changed jobs, around 400,000 had simply resigned.2 Although many put this down to issues related with the pandemic, such as people getting burnt out with their roles, or being unable to work remotely effectively, the “Great Resignation” has continued long after the last restrictions were lifted.
As Joerg Vollmer, chief executive of SPS, a business process outsourcing firm explains: “There’s always been difficulties getting talent for specialised roles. But now the gaps are across all levels of the organisation. In the US last year, three out of five people in professional business services changed companies.”
Partly this attrition has been due to a tight labour market, allowing workers to push for higher wages. But there are also other profound shifts going on. People are re-evaluating their priorities and searching for more meaningful roles, sick of jobs that neither interest them nor leverage their strengths.
Also, as technology has become more advanced, jobs are becoming increasingly skilled and complex. Many of the routine tasks can now be automated, leaving humans to design new systems, brainstorm ideas and undertake organisational roles. Unfortunately, these skills are hard to find, with three quarters of employers finding it difficult to source the talent they need.3 Above all, companies need workers that can be adaptable.
“I can guarantee this. Whatever job you have now, it will not be the same in two years from now, so you need to be flexible,” says Vollmer.
RETHINK talent management
In order to remain competitive, companies need to rethink their approach to attracting and retaining the best workers. One strategy involves tapping into the global talent pool, rather than just relying on local labour markets. The growth in remote-working technology has made this easier, although it still can be hard to organise and scale. Whereas workers value the option to work remotely part of the time, full-time remote positions can be isolating, meaning they are not as sought after. Also, it can be hard to schedule and manage disparate teams of home-workers.
One solution is smart shoring, which involves leveraging large-scale shared service centres in talent-rich locations. Vietnam, for example, is becoming a popular location for business process outsourcers (BPOs), due to its strong IT infrastructure and large base of skilled tech workers. Companies can access hundreds of qualified workers and can also easily ramp up in response to business growth or sudden increases in demand.
This type of outsourcing is not about labour arbitrage, it is about adding value and increasing productivity. In many cases, high volume, simple tasks are completed by software algorithms. The off-shore teams work with these systems and pick up any exceptions. It is these technical skills that companies want to access, so they can concentrate on their core business areas.
“In the past, outsourcing was always seen from a cost perspective. I think this is not the case anymore,” says Vollmer. “For many companies it means the opportunity to refocus their in-house talents to different tasks, such as decision-making or customer engagement.”
Changing how work, works
In many ways it is a simple proposition. Robotic work is done by the robots, while humans do the human work. But it can have a major impact on employee satisfaction. According to one survey, 48 per cent of workers in the UK said that having to do repetitive and mundane tasks in their job was impacting their overall mood, while the majority would consider leaving their job for a more creative role.4
As explained by Andy Spence, a futurist and advisor who focuses on how the workplace is evolving: “When it comes to designing a great employee experience, the smart use of workforce technology can play a major role. In essence you are changing how work, works. But you shouldn’t use it just to make existing processes slightly better, you should look to re-organise the whole system.”
That is what smart-shoring promises. It can be used to complete entire back-office functions, such as customer service requests or payroll processing, leaving companies free to focus on building their business and winning in the market. It can also help make work more meaningful, as the mundane and routine parts of a job are not just reduced but eliminated altogether. By creating a more talent-centric environment, companies can attract the best employees and cut the sky-high attrition rates most are witnessing. In the end, this will be seen in the bottom line.
“If you have happy employees this impacts the customer,” says Vollmer at SPS. “I have seen that over the last 30 years, there is a clear correlation. Employee satisfaction leads to customer satisfaction and then the financial success of the company.”
1 Vaco/Morgan Frankling Consulting (2022)
2 London Business School, June 2022. ‘What’s driving the great resignation.’ Available at: www.london.edu/think/whats-driving-the-great-resignation. Accessed March 2023
3 Manpower Group (2022): The 2022 global talent shortage
4 UiPath, October 2022. ‘Half of UK workers suffering mental health issues, heightened by rising cost of living.’ Available at: www.uipath.com/newsroom/half-workers-suffer-mental-health-issues. Accessed March 2023